ALAN LESTER OKSEN
died on March 11, 2015, in Oakdale of sudden heart failure.
Earlier that day, he had played on his mandolin and sang “Amazing Grace” to his wife of 46 years, Leslie Jay Payne Oksen.
Alan was born in Covina, California, on February 25, 1947. He grew up in Visalia, graduating from Mt. Whitney High School in 1964. While a student, Alan’s extracurricular pursuits were wide ranging and included participation in a variety of varsity sports, drama, community service as an Eagle Scout, and employment in the town’s bicycle shop. At the time, his sport of passion was tennis and, as with everything he did in life, he excelled.
In 1964 he enrolled at College Of Sequoias. While there, he swam for the Giants and had lead roles in productions of “Carousel” and “Camelot”. In 1966, Alan transferred to San Francisco State University, majoring in drama. His department was nationally recognized and, as a senior, he starred in “The Bacche”, by Euripides, a four hour long Greek tragedy, transformed into a rock opera with original, live music.
In 1969, Alan married Leslie, his college sweetheart. He worked for Stanislaus County for a time. After earning his teaching credential, Alan commenced his career at Oakdale High School teaching Drama and English. He chaired each department on a number of occasions.
Alan was fervently devoted to his students and delivered on his belief he had the responsibility to guide and challenge each person to reach his/her potential. He designed and created a black-box theater in the round and then designed the theater that exists today at OHS. Utilizing that platform, Alan directed plays that sometimes had 4 different casts, giving each student the chance to be on stage and have a significant theatrical role in the production. He initiated and led annual school trips to the Ashland, Oregon, Shakespeare Festival. During his career, hundreds of students traveled with Alan to ACT’s “A Christmas Carol”-a prerequisite for student travel was the student’s reading of the novel and participation in class discussions. In the 1980’s, Alan coached the girls’ and boys’ tennis teams to their first league championship.
In retirement, he restored classic automobiles and motorcycles, worked on his ranch and enjoyed time at his family’s cabin in the Sierras.
Alan was an artist, a craftsman, a musician, a philosopher, a teacher and student of life and a lover of deep conversation and good humor. He was a bit mischievous and enjoyed stretching peoples’ thinking outside of their comfort zone. He loved Leslie and his two sons, Ian and Andrew. He will be sorely missed.
A tribute to his life will be held at the Oakdale High School Theater on March 29, at 2:00 pm.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
March 25, 2015